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A new metaphysics for Christian demonology: psychodynamic immaterialism

Guthrie, Shandon Lou (2015) A new metaphysics for Christian demonology: psychodynamic immaterialism. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

Many philosophers throughout Christianity’s history have asserted the existence of intermediary beings or, in more familiar terms, angels and demons. According to Christianity, God, angels, demons, and human souls are all thought to share a common nature, namely ‘spirit.’ This ‘spirit’ is thought to signify immateriality. Yet each is said to interact with the physical world. God, who is conceived of as omnipotent, can interact with the world simply at will. Human souls are paired with bodies which provides them the equipment to interact with the world. Angels receive special assistance from God by which they interact with the world. But demons, unlike angels, are not likely to benefit from any special assistance from God (unlike angels), nor are they themselves omnipotent (unlike God), nor are they paired with bodies (unlike humans). However, demons are believed to interact occasionally with this physical world. But how can an immaterial demon interact with a material world? Any appeals to the same explanations for how other immaterial beings (viz. humans, angels, or God) interact with the physical world will not do. I propose a solution that is consonant with their being purely immaterial creatures and yet does not rely on such an ad hoc manoeuvre. I argue that they actually never do interact with the physical world apart from their exploitation of human beings as proxies. I propose to explain their interaction in terms of their basic ability to cognitively interact with embodied souls. I call this sustaining affirmation of their immateriality along with this particular relationship they have with the world through human beings psychodynamic immaterialism.

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